Twilight in Heaven: Chapter 34

Chapter 34

By the time I got to the southern edge of the forest by White Hoof, the spirits of fire ring Mt Ararad. It stands the furthest east of the Ribbed Mountains, a slanted horn with three faces gouged out by worms of Meru. All three bowls are white, but the ridges that climb to the peak between them are brown and black. Overhead the sky is dark. Midnight is here or just past, and dawn will not come for hours.

Flames that have escaped their candle wicks circle the summit. They are hounding something, flying quickly through the air in a wide loping circle. At one point they dive as they pass and fall like shooting stars toward a ridge. There are sparks there that die sizzling on the snow. The flames rise again. I am down the mountain but climbing very quickly. I wish I had a sword.

Up close the flames are horsemen with long glaives. They dive at Laeth, who stands over a crack in a ridge, parrying their weapons with a sword in his left hand. Every time their weapons of fire meet his blade of metal, they notch the metal. Yet he strikes back and when the horsemen have passed, plunges the sword into pockets of snow. I can see the cold of it hurts his hand, for he stuffs the sword in, watches for the next rider, and yanks the blade out to fight with it. He cuts them, and their flames turn cold and dead where his blade slashes. But there are many of them.

Merryweather and their little boy are in the crack underneath, and she is heaving stones aside, making it bigger. She throws boulders, but the horsemen are too swift in the open air.

I get closer, moving up the stone arete.

Laeth gets one of the flaming horsemen through the chest, and horse goes dark and black. It’s like a splotch of ink that spreads, ruining the brilliance of fire and light, until the whole horsemen is black as old ashes but smoldering around the edges. It falls, hits the snow, and breaks apart. Laeth yells something to Merryweather, and she stops throwing rocks.

I want to do something, but I have no idea what. Death take me, I’m going to help. Fate, let Intercepting Fist find these notes. I am tucking them among the rocks, and they should stay dry. I know I’m supposed to stay out. I can hide, but I won’t anymore.

Goodbye. I’m going.


My name is Intercepting Fist. I am an operator of Fate.

On 3rd Brumaire, the Olnedes were observed at White Hoof Massif. A source operates at White Hoof, one Nivale, Daughter of Aethionema, of the line of Lumina. Our next contact was not scheduled for some months, however the appearance of the Children of Olnedi away from any known volcanic eruption is a Class 5a suspicious event. My primary mission objectives were determine the reasons for and threats presented by the appearance of the Olnedes. In accordance with SOP, I also attempted a health and welfare check for the source. At the time of the incident, I was source’s handler.

The high-probability cause for an unexpected appearance of volcano spirits is unexpected volcanic activity. My initial premise was an unscheduled eruption, from which the Olnedes had escaped their bonds early. I took a complete vulcanology kit and notified the Bureau of Natural Disasters and Cataclysms via forms 10-992e and 10-992j. Forms had been accepted and signed. BNDC POC is Asst. Sec. Rock Thunder, see Receipt of Notice, 3-14.

A low-probability cause for the unexpected appearance of the Olnedes is madness. I sought and received Authorization for Terminal Sanction in defense of the source. BS POC is Divine Saturn.

Upon arriving on scene, I performed an initial recon. Time was between midnight and dawn. Weather was overcast. Terrain was mountainous/rocky with glaciers. Footing would be deeply suboptimal. I rode my personal transport, a lightning-dragon Lucky 8 who is certified for combat operations. The airborne Olnedes had formed a ‘doom loop,’ a harassing tactic used by cavalry against dismounted infantry. No signs of volcanic activity were identified.

I DID perform a ET 411 test for volcanic activity and confirmed no warning signs. It’s in the appendix. Allegations I failed to perform the test and violated EOF/ROE are a damned lie.

Negatively confirming the high-probability case, I closed on the engagement.

Cinders lay distributed across snow and ice. Not less than eight Olnedes had been slain. As I watched, one of the lava children dove on their adversaries. A primary aggressor executed a forward mounted attack with a mounted weapon and was parried by a swordsman. A female defender attacked with a chunk of ice of medium-log size. The ice spar struck the rider in the mount, and since the Olnedes are one entity, the cold attack on the apparent ‘horse’ caused damage to the rider. The aggressor went down and spread his ashes across the mountainside.

However both defenders went down as well. Upon closing, I observed innumerable burns to both combatants. The nature of the injuries prevented significant blood loss, but their skins had begun to turn. Black wounds like charred wood marred their flesh.

Further, the female combatant expressed the features of the line of Aethionema. Wielding several thousand pounds of ice as a melee weapon was in agreement with a dryad of Lumina’s line in their place of power, as was hair color and build. The Luminesque dryads tend toward tall but resilient entities.

Seeing both defenders fall but keep struggling, the Olnedes abandoned their harassing tactics and gathered for a cavalry charge.

Within the limits of battlefield intelligence, I used training and best judgment in accordance with Battles Guidance 0-1. I declared positive ID that the female combatant was the source, and therefore Terminal Sanction was authorized. The Olnedes numbered less than two dozen. I attacked.

The Olnedes formation had achieved maximum velocity, following an attack vector along the arete when I came up the same arete with Lucky 8 skimming the rocks. The Olnedes did not see me until I engaged. I executed a frontal assault almost on top of the defenders. Two volcano spirits I slew with my fists, off balanced another, and dragged him along the saw-tooth edge of the arete until rock tore him apart. The other riders diverged into two formations. Before they could rally, I assaulted the eastern formation from behind and got among them. They lost situational awareness, failed to evade in time, and I engaged and destroyed the enemy formation.

Emerging, I discovered the opposing enemy formation had rallied and assaulted their targets on the rocks. Such bloody-mindedness is atypical in capricious volcano spirits. Upon assaulting the enemy, I discovered another Lumanesque dryad operating in defense. She had taken the sword from the fallen male defender, but approximately ten Olnedes attacked her. I engaged them from the side, dismounted into their formation, and released Lucky 8 to operate as close air support. Landing on a fire-rider, I tore him limb from limb and beat his comrades with his remains.

The engagement ended shortly.

Having terminated their attack, I observed the defending combatants.

The remaining female defender was the source. I initiated passcode confirmation and received the correct challenge response. The initial female defender was the source’s sister, and the swordsman the source’s sister’s spouse. I performed triage. The source had not suffered life threatening wounds. The spouse was beyond care. The sister might survive. In accordance with Serenity Final Principles 0-8, I gathered sister and spouse together to ease his final passing. He died in her arms.

The sister asked for one ‘Kog,’ and the source retrieved a child from a hidden spot among the rocks. The child had succumbed to exposure and ceased responding to stimuli.

The dryad, while powerful in her home, was still limited by the nature of her home. To wit, the line of Aethionema is powerful among the Simhalls, yet the Simhalls are perilous to their kind. The end effect is one of heightened mutual lethality not mutual survivability. I judged the child beyond care, but considered some possibility of getting the source and source’s immediately family off the mountain before death. When I summoned Lucky 8 for exfiltration, the source’s sister blessed the child, cried for her husband, and died as well.

I exfiltrated source and child, retrieving the source’s reports, which are filed as an addendum.

Terminal Sanction was clearly used as authorized. While initial positive ID may have been flawed, the source was present for the engagement. Therefore executing Terminal Sanction was in accordance with terms authorized by Divine Saturn herself. Legalese nonsense to the contrary is blister popping. The Prosecuting Officer’s remarks are comprehensively garbage, lacking legal standing, understanding of the limitations of real-time conflict, and ignorant of SOP. The PO is obviously operating under a delusion of omniscience given by reading too many reports and not being in enough fights. He is an idiot, a fool, and a disgrace to the service.

With a peculiarly blank mind I flipped the page. The following few pages were collected forms. Operator Intercepting Fist had been charged with failure to follow procedure while executing Terminal Sanction and found guilty. He had been demoted from operator status and assigned to border control operations in the Ticonae North.


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